While we still await laptop, tablet and smartphone makers to jump on the bandwagon, there is no doubt the 802.11ac revolution is now well underway. Having seen next generation routers from three of the big four manufacturers (Netgear, Linksys and Buffalo) it is now left to D-Link to complete the line-up.
It does so with the Cloud Gigabit Router AC1750, also known as the D-Link DIR-865L. As with all descriptively titled products, the name gives much of the game away. The D-Link DIR-865L features 802.11ac at up to a theoretical 1300Mbit (the remaining 450Mbit comes from 802.11n theoretical performance being tacked on top), Gigabit Ethernet and the company's 'mydlink' Cloud platform. As a premium router, the D-Link DIR-865L also features dual channel 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The former is 802.11b/g/n compatible while 802.11n/ac work on the latter.
With most 802.11ac routers manufacturers going big on plastering 802.11ac logos all over their packaging along with its "three times faster than Wireless N' slogan, but remaining far from radical in their designs, D-Link is no different. The D-Link DIR-865L is a big rectangular block measuring a sizeable 240 x 167 x 32mm and weighing in a 550g. Happily is continues the recent trend in dumping external antennas, but it also continues the less welcome pattern of only sitting one way round – in this case in a portrait alignment.
Like most other rivals, D-Link also continues to fit just four Gigabit Ethernet ports to its routers and a single USB 2.0 port for networking a hard drive or printer. In this day and age six and two would seem a more sensible arrangement. USB 3.0 would be welcome as well, but v2.0 isn't yet a bottleneck for most networking performance.
As for build quality it is reasonable, if in the usual vein of 100 per cent plastic casing for the obvious signal-related reasons. What we don't like is the return to the bad old days of a shiny, fingerprint magnet piano black and it has some way to go to match the slick, matt finish and curved lines of Linksys' routers which remains the benchmark for router designs at this time. In short the D-Link DIR-865L won't offend, but it won't inspire either.
Happily the lack of drama in the D-Link DIR-865L's looks is also found in the setup process. Like Cisco, D-Link has unveiled a Cloud platform ('mydlink') and while this offers a convenient setup route for mainstream users, the more tech savvy still have access to the tried and trusted D-Link router UI over an internal IP address.
As for mydlink, it allows users to access router settings. This includes adding/blocking devices and setting up email alerts when new devices connect to the network, fail to connect or if there is new firmware available. These options can also be done over apps for iOS and Android. For now the service is rudimentary and the options certainly don't match that of Cisco's Connect Cloud, but it is a nice bonus which will no doubt evolve substantially over the coming months.